Tuesday, November 4, 2008

RP could regain int'l aviation Category 1 status - CAAP

MANILA, Philippines – Civil aviation officials on Monday said the Philippines could soon regain its Category 1 safety status in the international aviation community. In a statement, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said the agency’s comprehensive measures to address its critical concerns could help the country meet the standards set by the United States Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). “CAAP is in the right direction. With the drastic reforms being carried out in addressing various critical areas of concern in compliance with the findings of the FAA, the three-month old aviation body could eventually regain the Category I status,” said CAAP Director General Ruben Ciron.The Philippines was downgraded by the FAA to Category 2 on December 2007 after the government failed to enact measures addressing the structural inadequacies of the Air Transportation Office (ATO). The ATO was then replaced by CAAP last August. In his 100 Days Report submitted to President Arroyo last Friday, Ciron noted he forged a Technical Assistance Agreement with US FAA Administrator Robert Sturgell in Washington D.C. to address the discrepancies noted by FAA inspector on August 13. Based on the agreement, the CAAP sent a five-man team to FAA on September to finalize a detailed Category 1 action plan with FAA technical experts. Ciron also cited in his report he entered an agreement with Airbus Industries for the latter to provide a technical assistance training program at no cost to the government. Meanwhile, the Office of Government Corporate Council (OGCC) likewise recommended the exemption of CAAP technical personnel from certain provisions of the Salary Standardization Law. The exemption could allow the Authority to attract highly-qualified personnel and create a more professional work force. A new building is also under construction to provide additional office space to the Flight Standards Inspectorate Service and make room for an expanded Technical Library and Record Center, the statement said. For his part, Transportation and Communication Secretary Leandro Mendoza has allocated P53 million in support of CAAP’s restructuring and modernization efforts. Of the budget, P27 million will be allotted for the expansion of the existing aviation safety building, while the remaining P26 million will be for the computerization program of the Aviation Safety Information System Project as well as additional equipage for the Office of the Flight Surgeon and Aviation Medicine.Guided by its “Performing while Transforming” theme, the CAAP continuously provides regulatory and technical aviation services as it restructures itself to meet the world standards set by the FAA and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).As a corporate entity, the “CAAP is projected to earn about P5 billion from increased fees collection and infusion of revenue from other receivables – all made possible by the fiscal autonomy provided under the CAAP law which allows 100 percent retention of its earnings from airport charges and fees,” Ciron said in his report. The CAAP chief then cited the former ATO’s shortfall of P1.5 billion in budgetary allocation despite remitting to the government coffers a total of P3 billion. “There is no doubt, therefore, that with these added resources, the CAAP will be able to address its major concerns particularly the upgrade to FAA Category I,” Ciron said. -


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